Apr 2, 2019

Interest in Pete Buttigieg is exploding

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Data: Newswhip; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Democratic 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg is — by every measure — having an ascendant moment as a candidate for president.

Why it matters: The South Bend, Ind. mayor is generating more social media interest on a per article basis than any of his rivals, according to data from social media analytics company Newswhip. And that's just one of many signs of intensifying interest in "Mayor Pete."

By the numbers:

  • Since his March 10 CNN town hall, he's added 447k followers on Twitter. His next closest 2020 competitor, Beto O'Rourke, has picked up 137k in that period, per CrowdTangle.
  • Buttigieg has generated more engagement with his tweets (2.10 million interactions) during this period than any other candidate's main account except O'Rourke (2.17 million) — with half as many followers.
  • During this period, he's added more followers on Instagram (90k) and Facebook (75k) than any other candidate except O'Rourke (92k, 82k), per CrowdTangle.
  • Interest in Buttigieg, as seen through Google searches, has taken off. As CNN's Harry Enten writes, "Google searches have been correlated with jumps in the polls this primary season."

Buttigieg, 37, has made a name for himself with his unconventional background — he's an openly gay, Episcopalian, Navy veteran, Rhodes scholar millennial who speaks 8 languages.

“If you were to design the exact opposite of Donald Trump, it would be Pete Buttigieg.”
— Christopher Massicotte, partner at DSPolitical

The stories about him that have generated the most interest include:

  • Linguistic ability: Buttigieg answered a reporter's question in Norwegian. He taught himself the language in order to keep up with an author he liked.
  • On religion: "We have this totally warped idea of what Christianity should be like when it comes into the public sphere, and it’s mostly about exclusion.”
  • On MAGA: He said the notion of making America great again is "not honest" because it doesn't address the way the economy is being transformed by automation.

In the last week, Buttigieg has gotten two other pieces of news that point to his rise as a candidate:

The bottom line: It remains to be seen how much of the Buttigieg interest is a flavor-of-the-month sugar rush vs. momentum that continues to build and can sustain itself for a year and a half.

Go deeper:

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Trump accuses Twitter of interfering in 2020 election

President Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

President Trump responded via tweets Tuesday evening to Twitter fact-checking him for the first time on his earlier unsubstantiated posts claiming mail-in ballots in November's election would be fraudulent.

What he's saying: "Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post," the president tweeted. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,679,419 — Total deaths: 98,852 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
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  7. Public health: CDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus.
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Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets for first time

President Trump briefs reporters in the Rose Garden on May 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter fact-checked two of President Trump's unsubstantiated tweets that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be fraudulent for the first time on Tuesday, directing users to "get the facts" through news stories that cover the topic.

Why it matters: Twitter and other social media platforms have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat misinformation, especially when its propagated by the president.